After several years of trying to bring him over to London from Nigeria, Ikudaisi’s (O. C. Ukeje’s) mum (Golda John) finally succeeds. On the day he arrives to meet his younger brother, Yemi (Malachi Kirby), whom he last saw when he (Yemi) was three, a chain reaction is set off; leading to unexpected outcomes.
Bola Agbaje has to be lauded for writing such a simple, but gripping screenplay; which is proof that well researched, everyday stories can become blockbusters. In fact, Gone Too Far merits the Best Screenplay award in national and international award ceremonies. Then, Destiny Ekaragha is the new queen as far as film-making is concerned in Nigeria. The young lady superbly interprets this script, making a world-class comedy, which raises a lot of burning questions on the youth and problems of identity. Ekaragha also deserves laurels for telling this tale.
The film answers many of the salient questions it raises without preaching at the audience. One is riveted by the use of subtext and how continuity works so well that it is difficult to believe that the entire film was not shot in one day. Irony is a tool that also works very well here. For example, Frank sees himself as a white man in dark skin because he is British and he asserts that black immigrants are the ones who qualify to be called Negroes! He is more insistent on being seen as a ‘white man’ than the fair-skinned boy from an interracial union. Gone Too Far is evocative of the fact that race and identity crisis remain thorny issues for many in the Western world.
The actors are brilliant. This is probably O. C. Ukeje’s best performance so far. Malachy Kirby is believable: his body language, mannerisms and gestures are characteristic of an actor with immense talent and promise. The ladies and young men, who play Paris, Armani, Frank and Raizer, are competent and reliable actors. Much as the dialogue in Gone Too Far cannot be said to be sublime, the Nigerian slangs, which fascinate the African boys a great deal in a foreign land, add flavour to their conversations. Then, Ikudaisi’s mum’s frequent use of ‘quick sharp’ is humorous just as the reference to Africans as ‘Afs’ is hilarious. Daisi asks Yemi, ‘Do you know you?’; funny.
Another distinguishing element in the film is its structure, where all the major transitions in a film – an inciting incident, turning points, a midway point, a point of no return, a climax, catharsis anddénouementare well integrated to dramatize the comedy, taking the viewers to the edge of their seats at certain moments. For instance, after the first fight between Yemi and his brother on the one hand and the two boys on the other, one is tensed whenever it seems their paths will cross again because the latter group was spoiling for a showdown.
Moreover, there are distinct protagonists and antagonists, whose external and internal conflicts produce emotional responses in the viewers. Additionally, the conflicts in the film are taken notches higher each time, keeping the protagonists active as they confront the obstacles. For instance, after Ikudaisi beats up the boys, he gains Yemi’s respect and admiration and everyone thinks the relationship between the two brothers has become rock solid, but soon enough, they fall out again. Therefore, contrary to what we see in numerous comedy flicks in Nollywood, dramatic transitions and well realized characters are not alien in comedy as a genre.
One recurring drawback throughout the film is that Yemi’s mum’s speeches in the Yoruba Language are never subtitled same with the few times Ikudaisi speaks Yoruba. Then, Yemi’s mum tells someone, ‘My eldest son is coming to London today.’ She ought to have said: ‘My elder son …’ It is a comparative rather than a superlative statement.
Poisson Rouge Pictures Limited, the producers of Gone Too Far got sponsorship for this film from The British Film Institute (BFI) and the British National Lottery. How many films have the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the National Film Institute (NFI), our own equivalent of the BFI, bankrolled? We appreciate the fact that people like Yinka Edward, the ace DOP, and Kenneth Gyang, a greatly skilled director, are products of the National Film Institute (NFI), which is a subsidiary of the NFC, but can’t the corporation push for the inclusion of funding as part of its mandate if it is not currently so at the moment? However, if the corporation is supposed to fund films, what is it waiting for? At least, they can start by supporting their own outstanding students and products of their school.
Yours truly was at the 2010 and 2011 editions of the Best of the Best of Television and Film (BOBTV) in Abuja, Nigeria, where Peter Igho, the then Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) commenced the process of instituting a N10 million film fund (meagre at it was), first as a promise in 2010 and then the release of a brief in 2011. What became of that project? Isn’t the NLRC capable of establishing a film fund what with the proliferation of lottery activities in Nigeria in the past few years?
The comedy in Gone Too Far comes naturally and is not forced down the audience’s throats. Unlike many Nollywood comedies, the movie does not deploy slapstick and frivolous situations in telling its story, a story that will be remembered as one of the best comic films produced by Nigerians (well, British-Nigerians). Little wonder the audience at the 2014 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) unanimously voted it as their choice, giving it the Audience Choice Award. Bravo.